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Q+A: Gael Garcia Bernal on Chile and Mexico

Gael Garcia Bernal

For his Academy Award-nominated film No, the Mexican star traveled to Santiago, Chile, to portray the young ad exec who helped oust General Augusto Pinochet in 1988. T+L caught up with the peripatetic actor.

Q: What stood out most about Chile?
A: It’s the only country where a dictator has been toppled democratically. A fantastic place to visit is the General Cemetery; the whole history is buried there and you can see how the classes are divided. And Chile faces the sea, so there’s a strong coastal culture.

Q: Meaning good seafood?
A: It’s incredible! Bar Liguria ($$), in Santiago, is the best cantina for fish cheeks and pisco sours.

Q: Any other culinary high points?
A: Central Market (89 Avda. José Miguel Claro), which sells produce from all over Chile. The Clinic, a left-wing magazine, just opened a bar. It’s called that because when Pinochet was going to be charged, he said he was ill and entered a clinic in London.

Q: Did you venture outside of Santiago?
A: Isla Negra, where Pablo Neruda’s house is, is beautiful. And Valparaíso, which is full of culture and style. It was one of the most important ports in the Americas before the Panama Canal; everything from Asia came through there. Las Cruces is very tranquil, but the sea is cold—not like in Mexico.

Q: What’s your favorite Mexican beach?
A: Oh, there are many. I’m not going to say my top five because then I will be spoiling a secret.

Q: How about No. 6?
A: That would be San Agustinillo, in Oaxaca. It’s incredible.

Q: If you bring a bottle to the beach, what’s in it?
A: Homemade mezcal. I know people in Oaxaca who make it. I like to take my time enjoying it, while sending fireworks up to the universe.

Restaurant Pricing Key
$ Less than $25
$$ $25 to $75
$$$ $75 to $150
$$$$ More than $150

Photo courtesy of Gael Garcia Bernal

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